The Giants expected it, and the MRI results confirmed that LB Ryan Connelly, the team's fifth-round pick back in April, will be out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. It's a shame for the Wisconsin product after the hot start he had, collecting two interceptions in back-to-back games and tallying a sack in his first start on Sunday.
So the Giants are, once again, spread even more thin at the linebacker position. The reason Connelly got the start in the first place was due to Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and Tae Davis (concussion) having to be sidelined with their own injuries. David Mayo was also playing next to him.
It's unknown if those two first-teamers will be back against the Vikings this week, but head coach Pat Shurmur sounded optimistic on Monday they are trending in the right direction.
"They are much closer than they were last week," he told reporters. "I think there's a chance we could get both back, but we'll just have to see what the week brings."
Still, even if both of them return, the Giants still have three inside linebackers on the roster. With Connelly officially moved to the IR, the corresponding move was bringing in another pass rusher in DE Chris Peace, who was waived by the Chargers. So, if the Giants do bring someone in, another move would have to be made off their 53-man roster
The Giants' cap situation isn't the best at a little under $3.2 million, according to OverTheCap. But it could be just enough to go after a couple inside linebackers on the market if they don't wish to dip into their practice squad like they did with Saquon Barkley's absence.
Here are some options...
ILB Brandon Marshall
Marshall was once one of the best linebackers in the game, playing as a mainstay on the Broncos' defense for the past five seasons. However, the injury bug hit him and his play took a deep dive.
After putting up 106 combined tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble in 2017, Marshall sustained a knee injury in Week 8 last season and it hindered his production greatly. He totaled just 42 combined tackles with no sacks in 11 games (seven starts). Because of that, the Broncos let him walk into free agency, where the Raiders gave him an incentive-laden deal. But they cut him before the start of the year.
So, looking for a new home, Marshall could sign one of those types of deals again with the Giants. They have that cap room to do so, and being 30 years old now, GM Dave Gettleman and the rest of the front office would need to make sure he's healthy. Another injured linebacker would do them no good.
If Marshall can resurrect his old game, though, it would be a great pickup for the Giants.
ILB Josh Bynes
How about a man that knows DC James Bettcher's scheme already? Bynes played under Bettcher in 2017 before he took the job in New York, and though he wasn't much of a factor then, he exploded for his best season in 2018 with 75 combined tackles, two sacks and five passes defended. That's after a season where he saw 27 tackles and one sack.
A thumb injury cut Bynes' season short last season, but the Cardinals ultimately released him back in March to add some cap room. He had just signed a three-year extension prior to the 2018 season.
Now a free agent, another ex-Cardinal could come over to the Giants. They did it with OLB Markus Golden and that's seemed to have worked out thus far with his 3.5 sacks in four games.
ILB Mason Foster
Another cap casualty, Foster left the Redskins after spending the past four seasons in the burgundy and gold. And it came after a 2018 season that saw a career-high in combined tackles with 131, one sack, two fumble recoveries, two interceptions and four passes defended. Talk about productive.
But Washington didn't want to keep Foster, who is now 30 years old. In fact, they were looking to trade him before letting him go due to the fantastic year he had last season. He does have some injury history with a torn labrum in 2017 that cut his season short after five games.
Foster knows the NFC East well, obviously, and could want some revenge on his former team come later in the season. He should also be another cheap option.
ILB Manti Te'o
Te'o was with the Saints for the past two seasons after the Chargers, who took him in the second round back in 2013, let him walk. And while he was a solid linebacker option in 2017 -- 62 combined tackles over 16 games -- he was mostly a healthy scratch in 2018.
In turn, the Saints also let him go after the season and he's been looking for a new home since. He visited with the Raiders and Lions back in March, but nothing stuck. Maybe the Giants believe he could come in and be an impact player once again in a depth role.
Practice Squad Options
As we mentioned, Gettleman could look toward his practice squad to fill the void. There are two options in Jake Carlock and Josiah Tauaefa.
Carlock, in particular, had a memorable moment this preseason with the Giants when he took an interception back 59 yards for a pick-six against the Jets in Week 1. However, Tauaefa saw more action in the preseason, hauling in 17 combined tackles with one sack over all four games.
Tauaefa may be the better option, then, but they'll have the chance to practice this week to see if they can impress enough to crack the 53-man roster for the first time in both of their careers.